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JUNE 2010 


Bob Duncan 
Executive Director 

Partnerships have always 
been the necessary lynch- 
pin of success in the conserva- 
tion community. And in Vir- 
ginia, we have leaned on this 
approach for the betterment of 
wildlife since the earliest days 
of governance. While nothing 
new, I'd suggest that we are 
still making history. 

A cooperative manage- 
ment agreement we signed with the U.S. 
Forest Service in 1938 served as a model 
for other wildlife agencies across the coun- 
try. Over the decades, we have partnered 
closely with state parks, state forests, and 
many Virginia universities. Federal and 
state partners have also included the Natu- 
ral Resources Conservation Service, the 
Virginia Native Plant Society, and the Vir- 
ginia Society of Ornithology, among oth- 
ers. And, of course, our longstanding 
working relationships with such 'tradi- 
tional' partners as the Wildlife Foundation 
of Virginia, Ducks Unlimited, the National 
Wild Turkey Federation, the Virginia Wa- 
terfowlers Association, Trout Unlimited, 
and the Virginia Deer Hunters Association 
remain the bedrock of our collaborative 
approach to stewarding wildlife. 

Looking at the big picture, alliances 
with land management agencies such as 
the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and the 
Virginia Dept. of Forestry remain vibrant. 
Such relationships are key to the protec- 
tion of critical wildlife habitat. More recent 
alliances have leaned on the generosity of 
private and public landowners to secure 

necessary access for our 
statewide birding and wildlife 
trail system. 

Partnerships have not been 
limited to public entities, of 
course, nor have they been 
limited to Virginia. Quite re- 
cently we have worked on a co- 
operative agreement with Ten- 
nessee to create a reciprocal 
fishing license on the South 
Holston Reservoir. With technical support 
from our hatcheries, we've begun stocking 
white bass and trout. The work illustrates 
how much can be accomplished in a short 
period of time when people come together 
over a shared vision. 

And we could never cover the breadth 
of our mission without the support of cor- 
porations and grassroots organizations. 
Our partnership with the Prince William 
Conservation Alliance serves as a prime ex- 
ample. More recently, the Friends of the 
Chickahominy has been instrumental to a 
new volunteer effort aimed at broadening 
uses on our Chickahominy Wildlife Man- 
agement Area — ^which we hope will serve 
as a model for other WMA holdings. 

Working closely with others keeps our 
agency fresh and nimble, I like to think, as 
we try new approaches and make new 
friends in the process. These partnerships 
have enhanced our capacity to serve you, 
the outdoors men and women of Virginia. 
Such relationships make it possible to do 
the work you want to see done. They also 
remind us that there are many ways to ac- 
complish our objectives. 

Mission Statement 

To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; 
To provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard 
the rights of the people to hunt, fish and har\'est game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia; To promote safety for persons and 
property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing; To provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an aware- 
ness of and appreciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginia 's Wildlife and Natural Resources 



Commonwealth of Virginia 

Bob McDonnell, Governor 



Subsidized this publication 

Secretary of Natural Resources 

Douglas W. Domenech 

Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries 

Bob Duncan 
Executive Director 

Members of the Board 

Ward Burton, Halifax 
Brent Clarke, Fairfax 
Sherry Smith Crumley, Buchanan 
William T. Greer, Jr., Norfolk 
James W. Hazel, Oakton 
Randy J. Kozuch, Alexandria 
John W. Montgomery, Jr., Sandston 
Mary Louisa Pollard, Irvington 
Richard E. Railey, Courtland 
F. Scott Reed, Jr., Manakin-Sabot 
Charles S. Yates, Cleveland 

Magazine Staff 

Sally Mills, Editor 

Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon, 

Contributing Editors 
Emily Pels, Art Director 
Carol Kushlak, Production Manager 
Tom Guess, Staff Contributor 

Color separations and printing by 
Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA. 

Virginia Wildlife (ISSN 0042 6792) is published 
monthly by the Virginia Department of Game and i 
Inland Fisheries. Send all subscription orders and ! 
address changes to Virginia Wildlife, P. O. Box 7477, 
Red Oak, lovk'a 51591-0477. Address all other com- 
munications concerning this publication to Virginin 
Wildlife, P. O. Box 11104, 4010 West Broad Street 
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104. Subscription ratt- 
are $12.95 for one year, $23.95 for two years; $4.0i 
per each back issue, subject to availabilit)'. Out-ot 
country rate is $24.95 for one year and must be paid 
in U.S. funds. No refunds for amounts less than 
$5.00. To subscribe, call toll-free (800) 710-9369. 
POSTMASTER; Please send all address changes to 
Virginia Wildlife, PO. Box 7477, Red Oak, low,^ 
51591-0477. Postage for periodicals paid 
Richmond, Virginia and additional entry offices. I 

Copyright 2010 by the Virginia Department , 
Game and Inland Fisheries. AH rights reserved. 

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries s 
afford to all persons an equal access to DepartmeriB 
programs and facilities without regard to race, I 
color, religion, national origin, disability, sex, or 
age. If you believe that you have been discriminat 
ed against in any program, activity or facility,, 
please write to: Virginia Department of Game and I 
Inland Fisheries, ATTN: Compliance Officer, (4010| 
West Broad Street.) P O. Box 11104, Richmond 
Virginia 23230-1104. 

"This publication is intended for general ir\forma- 
tional purposes only and every effort has been 
made to ensure its accuracy. The information con- 
tained herein does not serve as a legal representa-| 
tion of fish and wildlife laws or regulations. The 
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Pishericv 
does not assume responsibility for any change iri 
dates, regulations, or information that may ocau 
after publication." 


Mixed Sources 

-wwfMorg Crrtno SW-COC OOI>SI I 

About the cover: 

Life on the Eastern Shore is all 

about the waters that embrace 

it and the people living in tune 

with the natural rhythms of the 

seasons for their livelihood. 

Just ask a waterman from 

Tangier. See related story on 

page 4. 

Photograph ©Dwight Dyke 

The Waterman Way 

by Tee Clarkson 

For decades, Tangier's watermen have 
connected us to the delicate fare of 
this island in the bay. 

r% The Fine Art of Gar 
* Fishing 

by Lynda Richardson 

For Eddy Johnston, this ancient relic 
of our tidal rivers presents a challenge 
unlike all others. 



For subscriptions, 

circulation problems 

and address changes 



12 issues for $12.95 
24 issues for $23.95 

Cub Scouts Yesterday and 

by Marc N. McGlade 

Happy 100th Birthday, scouts - and thanks for 
the values you teach. 

Why Crayfish Count 

by Cristina Santiestevan 

Crayfish tell us a lot about a river, whether it's 
healthy... or not. 

Hoffler Creek: An Urban Oasis 

by Ben Swenson 

A small but determined group of citizens helped 
save this patch of ground for all of us, especially 
the critters. 

Minnow Matching 
Smallmouth Tactics 

by Harry Murray 

You will improve your angling success if you 
learn to read minnow habitat. 

2009 Angler Hall of Fame 
2009 Angler of the Year 

On The Water 
Dining In 
Photo Tips 


©Emily Wallace 

b- *.■ 

t ^ 

.A. ^A^^a^y of li^v^ixT^g. .A. ^\A/^a^y of life. 


Jeff Crockett pulls his boat out 
from Cockrell's Deli in 
Reedville just as the sun drops 
below the horizon. It is October 2nd, a 
transitional period in the year of 
Tangier Island's watermen. The peel- 
er crab season is coming to an end and 
the commercial rockfish season will 
soon get underway. Jeff's days as a 
fulltime waterman on Tangier are be- 
hind him, courtesy primarily of a bad 
back, but he still runs nets for rockfish 
in the spring and fall and guides duck 
hunters in the winter. Like many of 
his contemporaries, he left the crab- 
bing grounds and the nets for life as a 
tugboat operator to the north. He 
works the typical tugger's schedule 
of two weeks on and two weeks off, 
which allows him at least half the year 
on the island. Jeff is a direct descen- 
dant of John Wesley Crockett, the 
original owner of Tangier, and like 
many of his relatives before, he has 
lived on the island all his life. 

He gives it a little gas as we pass 
the menhaden factory at the mouth 
of the creek leading out into the bay. 
The smokestack sends the stench of 
burning fish oil onto the breeze. I try 
my best not to breathe, but it is no use 
of course. In a few minutes we are 
past it and into the bay, heading east. 
The light glows red, orange, and yel- 

low in the wake behind the boat. We 
pass several menhaden boats on their 
way to unload their catch. It's a 
Thursday evening. There are no 
recreational boats out, just those that 
make their living out here. It's dark 
when we finally pull up to the dock 
on Tangier an hour later. I load my 
gear onto a golf cart (there are only a 









1 ! 

t 1 i 


•1 '1^11?% 'in-'i^ 

■ar -Si' 



©Emily Wallace 

few cars on this patch of land) to catch 
a ride to my room on the other side of 
the island. In the morning I have 
plans to go scraping for peeler crabs. 
Donald Thorn Jr., "Thornie," 
knocks on my door at 3:45 a.m. He 
seems surprised that I am awake, but 
it is a guise created by the first cup of 
coffee. My brain hit the snooze but- 
ton. Thomie is 54 years old and has 
been making his living from the wa- 

This peeler crab is just about done shedding and will soon be packed live, 
refrigerated, and make its journey to a New York City frying pan. 

ters around here since he was 16. He 
is used to being awake this time of 
morning. I, however, am not. 

It will be nearly three hours before 
a hint of light, but for the crabbers on 
Tangier, it is time to get to work. Be- 
giiining in the late spring, and some- 
times lasting through early October, 
Thomie scrapes peeler crabs from the 
flats around the island and puts them 
into tanks, waiting for them to shed 
and turn into softshells. He has to 
ra check the tanks on a regular basis to 
^ make sure the crabs don't get too 
^ hard, at which point they are no 

We hop down from the dock and 
onto his small skiff for the short ride 
to his crab house, a small shack on 
stilts where Thornie keeps his tanks 
and his larger crabbing boat. 

"We use outboards like you use 
power," he says as he fires the motor 
and putts across the channel. I chuck- 
le. As soon as the boat is tied to the 
crab house, Thoniie gets to work in 
the tanks, sorting the crabs and 
pulling the ones that have shed dur- 
ing the night. When he is done, he 
arranges the softshells by size, gently 
places them on newspaper in a card- 
board box, and puts them in the 

JUNE 2010 

fridge. They will stay alive there and 
tomorrow catch a boat to Crisfield, 
Maryland. From there they will ride 
by truck to New York or Philadelphia 
where they will find their way, fresh, 
into a frying pan by tomorrow 

It only takes an hour to sort and 
arrange the crabs. Then there is noth- 
ing to do but sit in the crab house and 
wait for light. Jeff shows up around 
five and he and Thomie tell tales of 
the old days and some of the new. 
There used to be 60 or 70 watermen 
working peeler crabs, but that num- 
ber has dropped to around 20. Most 
of those guys have gone to tuggin' 
like Jeff, and there are few, if any, of 
the younger generation that show an 
interest in making a living off the 
water anymore. 

Jeff and Thornie wear the sadness 
over this dying way of life on their 
shirtsleeves. "It's like losing the last 
farmer," Jeff says, who doesn't expect 
the waterman way of life will be 
around in 20 or 30 more years. "But I 
guess I won't be around to see it." 

In an hour, a hint of light appears 
over the water, and Thomie gives the 
word that it is time for us to head to 
the crabbing grounds. Jeff is going to 
check a net he put out for flounder 
the day before. 

We don't say much as we pull out 
of the channel and head around the 

It will be nearly three hours 
before a hint of light, but for the 
crabbers on Tangier, it is time 
to get to work. 

island on a fifteen-minute ride to the 
shallow flats where we will pull nets 
for crabs. A gull lands on the bow and 
catches a ride while a few others 
gather behind us. They apparently 
know the drill. To the east, dawn's 
colors bloom on the horizon. 

The boat ride provides time for 
contemplation. I imagine for a mo- 
ment — seeing this every morning as 
Thomie does. There is a bite to the faU 
air that just starts to sting my cheeks. 
It feels incredibly good. Two black 
ducks sail overhead, heading for the 

Backbreaking work, long hours, and exposure to the weather combine for a tough 
way to make a living. Most watermen say there is nothing they'd rather be doing. 

marshes. In another couple of 
months the ducks will be here in 
good numbers: redheads, pintails, 
widgeon, and brant by the thou- 
sands. I can't help but think how 
good it is to be alive, to be here. 

For five hours we scrape the flats 
for crabs, dragging nets over either 
side of the boat for several minutes 
before pulling them in, sorting 
through the hardshells for the peelers 
and tossing them into baskets. I try to 
help a little just to get the feel for it, 
but I can tell I am mostly in the way. 

Eventually Thomie gives me the 
job of steering the boat while he pulls 
the nets, a job usually accomplished 
by a rope tied to the steering stick, but 
I'll take it. It makes me feel involved 
at least. It's hard to sit and watch 
someone work. We head in at eleven, 
a little earlier than usual, but I get the 

sense that Thomie is ready to go in as 
well. Normally he would stay imtil 
twelve, he says, but it has been a long 
season, one that will likely end in the 
next week or so as the weather cools a 
bit more. We have two bushel bas- 
kets, each filled about halfway with 
peelers, a decent morning according 
to Thomie. 

When I say my goodbyes, I can't 
help but think that tomorrow morn- 
ing I will be back on the highway 
heading to work while Thomie will 
be here, scraping crabs from this 
same shallow flat. As the ferry puUs 
from the island, headed back to 
Reedville, I can just make out the 
skeleton of a duck blind on a flat to 
the west of the land. In a few months 
it will be bushed with cedars to hide 
the hunters, and I will return to try 
my hand at some ducks. 


The Seasons Turn 

January 22nd, the forecast is for 
winds out of the northeast at 25 miles 
an hour with gusts up to 50. Jeff 
called the night before to say he did 
not think we could make the run over 
from Reedville in the morning, that 
we would have to drive up the shore 
to Crisfield and catch the ferry over. 
Fortunately, though, things calmed a 
bit overnight and now he thinks we 
can make it. 

Four of us load our gear onto his 
boat. We don't need much: waders, 
guns, a change of clothes. We will just 
be hunting one afternoon and the fol- 
lowing morning. Things are notice- 
ably different this time of year. Rather 
than stand in the back, exposed to the 
elements, we huddle in the cabin, 
taking advantage of what will be our 
last bit of warmth until evening. 

On the way out of the creek, we 
pass the menhaden factory. There are 
no fish burning now, a pleasant ad- 
vantage to this time of year. The con- 
versation quickly turns to the birds. 
There have been plenty around, Jeff 
says, and it has been a good year 
when the weather has been right. I 
am disappointed to hear that Thornie 
will not be able to join us for the hunt. 
His father is having heart surgery on 
the mainland. 

The ride is rougher than I have ex- 
perienced before. By the time we 
reach the middle of the bay we are 
holding onto what we can to keep 
from tipping into each other as we 
crest and fall with each wave. Even- 
tually, though, we see the island in 
the distance, the waters begin to 
calm, and we go out back to sort 
through our gear and get ready for 
the hunt. We will leave straight from 
the boat to the blinds. 

With the boat tied and everything 
settled, a friend and I hop into a small 
fiberglass boat with Jeff. We head to 
the same blind I saw leaving in Octo- 

With little work to be done during 
winter, many Tangier watermen take 
to the marshes in search of waterfowl, 
both guiding trips and "gunning" for 

JUNE 2010 

ber just to the west of the island. On 
the way we jump thousands of red- 
heads, brant, and geese rafted on the 
shallow flats surrounding a handful 
of small islands. While it is nice to see 
so many birds around, they are diffi- 
cult to hunt when rafted in such large 
numbers, but we are still optimistic. 

Jeff pulls the boat into the blind, 
we tie off, and we wait. For an hour 
we watch as the birds we scattered 
trickle back, flight after flight, around 
the small island where we first 
jumped them. Nothing seems willing 
to give our spread of decoys a decent 
look until a group of brant appear 
low from the north heading right at 
us. Hunkered down in the boat be- 
hind the cedars, we don't dare to look 
as Jeff gives the birds a low guttural 
hoot to signal that everything is just 
fine over here. The birds continue on 
their way right to us, sliding into 
range against the wind when Jeff 
calls a duck hunter's favorite words, 
"Take 'em." We drop three of the six 
brant. The skunk is out of the boat. 

While picking up the birds, we no- 
tice more flights heading toward the 
island a quarter-mile in the distance. 
We decide to pull a few decoys from 
the spread and head that way in 
hopes of a little more action. 

The wind has certainly freshened 
as we hunker behind a small pile of 
sand and reeds some 25 yards from 
our decoys. It's a different feel from 

the blind. The nearly constant wind 
in the middle of the bay removes any 
proof that there have been hunters 
here before, that there have been hu- 
mans here before. Huddled against 
this point, one can imagine for a mo- 
ment himself the first. I am overcome 
by a strange feeling, like I am living in 
a painting I have seen somewhere be- 
fore. 1 soak in the surreal of the mo- 
ment when my friend says, "What's 

We turn to see a pair of gadwalls, 
cupped and fighting the wind, trying 
their hardest to get to our decoys. It 
seems like forever before they get in 
range. We tell ourselves to wait, wait, 
wait, until finally, when we can't take 
it one second longer, they are here, at 
the edge of the decoys. We rise from 
the sand, the wind howling in our 
faces. The birds bank and rise. We 
each pick one and pull the trigger. 
They both fall and splash in the shal- 
lows against the bank. In this mo- 
ment, at least, all is right with the 
world. All is right on Tangier. 

Tee Clarksoii is an English teacher at Deep Run 
Higli Scliool in Henrico Co. and runs Virginia 
Fisliing Adventures, a fishing camp for kids: 

For information about hunting on 
Tangier, contact Jeff Crockett at, or 

The Fin 

l" T / y^ r^^^ 


~Z^^^^^^^{/ h— =»Jr 

^ ml X-^il \ ^ 

A well-known 
gar fisherman reveals 
a jew secrets. 

story and photos 
by Lynda Richardson 


he early fall 
morning air 
was cool and 
wet; a soft wind blew 
lightly against my 
face. With an over- 
cast sky it seemed a 
lot colder than it 
was, and I hugged 
my fleece jacket 
tightly around me. 
All was quiet ex- 
cept for the lap- 
ping of water, a 
few gulls yelping 
overhead, and the 
truck backing up. 
Eddy Johnston was 
busily getting his boat 
into the water. A one- 
man team, he had every- 
thing under control. Before 
I could offer any help, Eddy 
had the boat off the trailer 
loaded with gear and had parked 
the truck. We were ready to go. 

As I walked back along the shore- 
line to get to the boat I noticed several 
large fragments of scallop shell in the 
sand. These were fossils from a time 
millions of years ago when this 
ground was covered by an ocean. We 
were at Claremont in Surry County 
and the water before us was the James 
River. Different from the James River I 
know back in Richmond, this was an 
area of brackish water and high cliffs 


;Artof6ar Fishing 

Left, Eddy Johnston hoists a 14-lb. citation longnose gar from the waters of Chippokes 
Creek at Claremont Manor in Surry County. Above, Johnston drives his Chincoteague 
20 scow on Chippokes Creek toward some great gar fishing. 

edging the river and many of the 
creeks that feed into it. Having an an- 
cient ocean background, the cliffs of 
Claremont were known for bearing 
fossils. Over the centuries the cliffs fell 
away to reveal fossil shark and ray 
teeth as well as the scallop shells I was 
seeing. Though these creatures were 
long gone, there was at least one re- 
maining remnant: the object of our 
pursuit. We were going fishing for lep- 
isosteus osseus, more commonly known 
as the longnose gar. 

Eddy Johnston is well known for his 
gar fishing prowess. He once held the 
World Record IGFA6-lb. tippet fly fish- 
ing record for gar on Chippokes Creek: 
7 lb., 14 oz. He earned his Expert An- 
gler award for gar in 2003 and he has 19 

trophy gar citations covering a bath- 
room wall to prove it. (He actually has 
25 citations!) I asked Eddy why the fas- 
cination with angling for a fish nor- 
mally considered by many as "trash." 

With a smile he replied, "It's fun be- 
cause no one else does it!" 

Eddy was first introduced to gar in 
the 1980s when he joined the Virginia 
Anglers Club and entered a gar fishing 
tournament that was held on the 
Chickahominy River. With the help of 
some other club members, Eddy says 
he either captured second or won the 
tournament. (Nice friends!) But it was 
the Anglers Club tournament where 
he became hooked, or "snagged" as he 
likes to admit, on gar fishing. 

As we took off across the large ex- 

panse of water, the hum of the motor 
and the salty spray got me to thinking 
about how you would find gar in 
such a large area. Eddy told me that 
you normally wouldn't find just one 
fish in a spot, but many, and he 
seemed to be heading somewhere 
specific. I strained to see some clue as 
to what we were looking for. 

"You have to look for a bend in tlie 
river, like a hook, and that area also 
has to have deep water." And as if on 
ciie, Eddy pointed just ahead of us. 
"Don't you see them?" 

And I'm thinking, you have got to 
be kidditig me. What am I seeing? 

He pointed again and saici, "You 
can't see that?" I squinted and finally 
spotted it. I couldn't believe my eyes! 
We weren't even as close as a football 
field and I could see hundreds of 
splashes on the water's surface. Eddy 
corrected me, "Thousaiids." 

As we got to the spot, the noise 
from our engine spooked the fish into 
dropping out of sight but Eddy 
turned on his fish finder and told me 
to take a look. "When I first discov- 
ered this spot," he said, "my depth 
finder was telling me that it was only 
3 feet deep here. Well, I knew that 

The teeth of a longnose gar are guite 
sharp. You might want to land one 
using a terry cloth towel. 

JUNE 2010 

wasn't true but I finally figured out 
why. There are so many gar here tliat 
the depth finder was bouncing off the 
backs of the fish! It is really about 24 
feet here." Now that is a lot of gar! 

Gar don't have many enemies. In 
fact, the only creatures that will kill a 
gar for food are osprey and alliga- 
tors. . . and we don't have alligators in 
Virginia. And gar live a really long 
time. It is estimated that they can live 
up to 20 years. So as you can imagine, 
the gar population has exploded. Are 
they good to eat? People nowadays 
don't eat them, but back in the 1880s 
gar were considered one of the prin- 
cipal fish foods and are still eaten in 
some areas of Louisiana and the Gulf 
Coast. You can, of course, find gar 
recipes on the Internet! 

As we anchored and settled into 
our spot the gar began to resurface 
and gulp air Some jumped out of the 
water, porpoising and splashing 
around us. It was unbelievable. Eddy 

began to get his rods and bait togeth- 
er and explained to me about the 
"fine art" of gar fishing. 

First to know, gar love jumbo shin- 
ers. They love them fresh dead, 
wounded, stinky dead, and alive. 
What Eddy likes to do is put one of 
everything out to see what the gar 
favor that day. When spin fishing, 
Eddy prefers to use 6- and 8-lb. test 
line and a 7- to 7.5-foot flipping stick, 
giving him a hearty rod to control the 
fish. Red hooks in the 1 /O to 4/0 size 
are preferred but never a treble hook. 
(You're just asking for trouble with a 
treble!) If you prefer, a !/4-oz. jighead 
and red hook work well together, 
adding a little weight to drop your 
bait deeper Live shiners should be 
hooked in the nose and you can use a 
syringe to add air to dead ones so that 
they will float longer 

Most of the gar that Eddy has 
caught in the past were taken deep, 
so keep this in mind if you decide to 




This assortment of artificial flies includes 
great lures for catching the finicky gar. 

fish for gar You can leave a line out or 
cast and make a slow retrieve. But 
most importantly, don't hurry the 
bite! Gar are very sensitive to vibra- 
tion on the line, so you will want to 
disengage your clicker from the drag. 

Left, gar love shiners in any condition. Right, a Garmin depth finder shows numerous longnose gar resting below the surface. 


When using artificial baits, soft bodied lures are best, as gar seem to avoid biting 
anything hard. 

After grabbing a bait, the gar will 
swim off with it, hoping to avoid hav- 
ing it stolen by another gar. The gar 
will find a safe spot, then chew on the 
bait — trying to position it head first 
into its throat where it can finally 

"You have to look for a bend in the 
river, like a hook, and that area 
also has to have deep water. " 

Eddy Johnston 

swallow its meal. This particular 
method of eating is why you have to 
be patient and not try to hook the fish 
right away. If you "set the hook" be- 
fore the hook is anywhere close to the 
mouth, obviously you're not going to 
bring in the fish. This is why fisher- 
men lose a lot of gar immediately or 
right at the boat. 

Eddy threw out an assortment of 
shiners around the boat and, as the 
wind moved us around, maneuvered 
the rods like chess pieces to keep the 
line from tangling. Soon, a rod 
dipped and line began to slowly peel 
off of one. Instinctively I stood up to 
grab it but Eddy waved me down. 
"Patience. . . he's just playing with it." 
It was a game of patience and re- 
straint, but after several hours we 
caught two decent-sized gar and a 
couple of small blue cats. It was slow 
going, but that made each fish much 
more appreciated. Finally, we 

hooked into a big one that even Eddy 
seemed excited about. 

Line began to peel off a rod so 
Eddy picked it up and held it while 
the fish swam away and stopped. It 
moved a little more, and then I 
watched Eddy as his expression 
turned to one of deep concentration. 
It seemed as if he was contemplating 
what the fish was doing. I couldn't 
tell exactly what triggered it, but sud- 
denly Eddy decided to reel and the 
fish was hooked, or at least we hoped 

"Okay, now this is a good one!" 
Once the huge gar felt resistance, the 
fight was on. It thrashed its head and 
swam hard while Eddy carefully and 
quickly tried to get it to the boat. "Yon 
don't want to fight a fish too long or it 
will chew up the line!" Ready with a 
large net, this one-man team dipped 
under the fish and had it in the boat. It 
was big and we were both excited. 

"Is that a citation? Is that a cita- 
tion? Is it?" I couldn't help myself! 

A Virginia state citation gar has to 
be either 10 pounds or 40 inches. This 
fish, citation number 25 for Eddy, was 
a 14 pounder and instantly became a 
model for gar fishing. I pho- 
tographed Eddy doing everything 
with that fish. His patience (and the 
gar's) definitely paid off with the 
shots I was able to capture. (And it's a 
good thing that gar breathe air!) 

When Eddy finally lowered the 

gar gently over the side, it dropped 
down, blending into the dark water 
and out of sight only to reappear on 
the surface swimming away as if 
nothing had happened. Soon after 
we were done for the day and headed 
back to the put-in to load up and 
head home. I was still excited about 
the big gar and had loads of ques- 

What was the Virginia state 
record? 25 lbs. 2 oz. cniigJit in 1987 
at Lake Prince. 

* What was the world record? 50 
lbs. cauglit in 1954 at Trinity River in 

• How about world record on a fly 
rod? 25 /^. 2 02. WoK'.' 

So where can one catch a gar in 
Virginia? Eddy reported that the 
James River probably has the highest 
concentration of longnose gar, while 
the Chickahominy River is a likely 
second. Creeks off of the James, like 
Chippokes and Herring and even the 

A live jumbo shiner is hooked in the 
mouth in preparation of being tossed 

Dragon Run (part of the Piankatank 
River system), are also good water- 
ways to try. And although gar feed 
mostly at night, you can have fabu- 
lous luck during the day fishing any- 
time, any season, all year long. If you 
want a challenge, they are a great 
fighting fish, but the secret is finding 
them. And, oh yeah, having patience 
and knowing when to reel them in. 

Eddy smiled, "There is a fine art to 
gar fishing. Another reason I like it so 
much." n 

Li/iida Richardson is a freclaticc phoiogvaphcr 
and writer. She writes the "Plioto Tips" coliunn 
for the magazine. 

JUNE 2010 

Cub Scouts 

Scouting has taught core 

values for the past 1 00 

years — and it's still 

going strong. 

story and photos 

Do your best. That's the motto 
of the Cub Scouts. And don't 
forget it. 
The Boy Scouts of America (BS A), 
of which the Cub Scouts is a part, is 
one of America's largest and most 
prominent values-based youth de- 
velopment organizations. The BSA 
provides a program for future lead- 
ers. Scouting builds character, devel- 
ops personal fitness, teaches boys re- 
sponsibilities, and enables them to 
participate in citizenship activities, 
among other benefits. 

In fact, this has been the case for 
100 years! The BSA reached this giant 
milestone earlier in 2010, as they cele- 
brated their 100th birthday. Officially 
launched 20 years after the Boy 
Scouts, the Cub Scouts at the end of 
the first year (1930) reached 5,102 

Archery is one of the sports Cub 
Scouts con participate in, especially 
during summer camps. 


When Cub Scouts receive their Bobcat Badge, it's a rite of passage. 

The BSA couples lifelong values 
with educational activities and fun. 
An excerpt from the BSA's website 
says it best: "The Boy Scouts of Amer- 
ica believes — and, through a century 
of experience, knows — that helping 
youth is a key to building a more con- 
scientious, responsible, and produc- 
tive society." 

Helping a child stay on the 
straight and narrow is never an easy 
chore. While introducing a kid to 
fishing, hunting, hiking, or other out- 
doors-oriented activities doesn't 
mean they won't stray at some point, 
it goes a long way toward teaching 
core values and beliefs that those of 
us who treasure the outdoors hold 

Boys from first grade through fifth 
grade, or ages 7 to 10, are eligible to 
join. Those older than 10, or who 
have completed the fifth grade, can- 
not join Cub Scouts; however, they 
may be eligible to join the Boy Scouts 
or Venturing program. There are Cub 
Scout ranks along the way that boys 
attain through electives and manda- 
tory requirements. The youngest 
rank is Tiger Scout. Following that is 
Wolf, Bear, Webelos I, and Webelos II. 

Adults lead exciting activities at 
the weekly den meetings for each 
rank, while monthly pack meetings 
assemble all the Cub Scout ranks. 

JUNE 2010 

The shooting sports are among the favorite activities that Cub Scouts pursue. 

Opening flag ceremonies, the Pledge 
of Allegiance, and closing cere- 
monies reinforce core messages. 

A cubmaster leads the pack. With 
a named cubmaster, the pack oper- 
ates more effectively, as all dens and 
ranks follow the same plan. This 
leadership role also provides greater 
opportunities for recognition and 
parental involvement. 

Cub Scouts can earn belt loops and 
pins as recognition for participation in 
specific activities. In the academics and 
sports program, the boys learn new 
skills, become better scholars, learn 
sportsmanship, and have fun. The list 
is lengthy, but some academics and 
sports include fishing, baseball, chess, 
astronomy, computers, golf, tennis, sci- 
ence, hiking, and skateboarding. 



Adult leaders accompany Cub Scouts 
on their overnight, summertime 
camping adventures. 


O Cub Scout Promise: I promise to 
do my best; to do my duty to God 
£md my country; to help other 
people; and to obey the Law of the 

O Law of the Pack: The Cub Scout 
follows Akela. The Cub Scout 
helps the pack go. The pack helps 
the Cub Scout grow. The Cub 
Scout gives goodwill. 

O Cub Scout Motto: Do your best. 

O The annual popcorn sale is a key 
fundraiser for Cub Scouts. 
Seventy percent of each sale goes 
to local scouting. 

O Scouting for Food is an annual 
event that Cub Scouts and adult 
leaders participate in to collect 
food for local food banks for 
subsequent distribution to those 
in need. 

O U.S. citizenship is not required of 
youth or adult members in the 
Cub Scouts. 

O Members of the Cub Scouts re- 
ceive a subscription to Boys' Life 

O As of 2008, the total Cub Scout en- 
rollment stood at 1,655,635 boys. 

O For additional information on the 
Cub Scouts, visit 
w \v w. scou ting . org, 
or for details specific to Virginia, 

The theory behind belt loops and 
pins is to help fulfill the aims of scout- 
ing; that is, to build character, devel- 
op citizenship, and encourage men- 
tal and physical fitness. The organi- 
zation stresses this is a chance for 
scouts to try something new, do their 
best, and earn recognition at the same 

From Yesterday 
to Today 

The life lessons taught from Cub 
Scouts linger in many men's memory 
banks today as they recount their 
youth. Drew Biehler, cubmaster of 
Pack 2831 from Midlothian, recalls 
his days in Cub Scouts as a young- 

"Being part of Cub Scouts broad- 
ened my understanding of nature, 
wildlife, and the outdoors," he said. 
"I felt a sense of belonging that was 
outside of my grade school experi- 

Ask most former scouts and they 
will echo Biehler 's sentiments. The 
friendships, learning experiences, 
and memories are still fresh for mem- 

bers of this organization, regardless 
of how long ago their membership 

"While I did not advance to Boy 
Scouts myself, looking back I feel I 
missed a really great opportunity," 
Biehler explained. "Being a cubmas- 
ter allows me to spend quality time 
with my two sons. I get to live vicari- 
ously through them as they advance 
in rank through scouting. My older 
son is a Star (rank) in Boy Scouts, 
while my younger son is a Webelos I 
in Cub Scouts." 

Children today are faced with far 
more distractions than those of previ- 
ous generations. Communication is 
instantaneous, technology is chang- 
ing at light speed, and news — both 
good and bad — is continuous. Text 
messaging and social media web- 
sites, even for youngsters, in some 
cases replace the telephone. While 
these things are undergoing rapid 
change and transformation, the Cub 
Scouts program still provides young 
boys with a great learning opportuni- 
ty and keeps them focused in areas 
that many kids who are not scouts 
will likely miss. 

The Pinewood Derby is a signature Cub Scout activity the entire family 
can enjoy. 


Cub Scouts introduces young 
boys to camping, fishing, hiking, na- 
ture, shooting sports, and communi- 
ty responsibilities, among other key 
aspects of adolescent development. 
Accountability and responsibility, ar- 
guably a lost message these days, are 
paramount to its teachings. 

The "pine wood derby" is a signa- 
ture Cub Scout activity the entire 
family can enjoy. The excitement of 
planning the car design, working 
with a parent or other adult to con- 
struct the vehicle, and taking part in 
the event on race day — win or lose — 
is a wonderful memory for all in- 

Carrying on the Traditior 

Adult leaders are always needed in 
scouting. Den leaders, assistant den 
leaders, or adults who can organize 
or lead particular events are vital to 
the Cub Scouts sustaining and con- 
tinuing to groom Virginia's future 
leaders. And adults who feel they 
missed out by not being a Cub Scout 
as a youngster can greatly assist the 
scouts today by volunteering. As for 
those who grew up in this fine organ- 
ization, well, they carry the memories 
and the life lessons that they learned 
while being involved in the program. 

Biehler says his experience as a 
scouting leader has introduced him 
to many extremely talented, dedicat- 
ed people from all walks of life. He 
knows he couldn't do it alone. 

"Being a leader in scouting teach- 
es me to be extremely flexible and 
think fast on my feet," he quipped. 
"Leading a pack the size of ours (68 
boys) requires the ability to adapt 
quickly to changing situations, which 
I feel is a benefit. Having a plan B, C, 
and D is essential." 

Those who don the Cub Scout uni- 
form know the importance of this 
fine organization to the future of Vir- 
ginia's outdoors. Happy Birthday, 
Scouts. Here's to the next 100 years. 
Remember, do your best! D 

Marc N. McGlnde is a ivriter and plioto^raphcr 
from Midlothian, ivhose son Justin is curroitli/ 
at the Bear rank in Cub Scouts. 

Scouting would not be complete without performing skits on stage 

The competition and camaraderie associated with the Pinewood Derby is 

JUNE 2010 

story by Cristina Santiestevan 
illustrations by Spike Knuth 

Zf you ask around, you will 
quickly discover that almost 
everyone has a crayfish 
story. Young, old, or in-between, we 
splash through streams, poke around 
in pond muck, and flip over stones 
and logs in pursuit of these lobster- 
like freshwater crustaceans. And if 
we actually find one? The brave 
among us will scoop them up, dodg- 
ing claws to claim their prize. Even 
children (or adults) too timid to touch 
the crayfish will gather close to count 
legs, examine antennae, and wonder 
at their tliick, armor-like exoskeleton. 
And, no matter what, the adventure 
will be retold as a story someday. 

"For a lot of folks, 
collecting crayfish 
was their first real 
foray into wildlife," 
explains Chris Bur- 
kett, the Wildlife Ac 
tion Plan coordinator 
with the Department (DGIF). 

But, for all our stories, 
we really know very little 
about crayfish. "If we tried to 
write out everything we know 
about crayfish, it'd be a pretty short 
list," says Burkett. We know, for ex- 
ample, that crayfish are omnivores 
and opportunists, and "will eat "just 
about anything they can get their 

Raccoons are crayfish predators. 

claws on," according to DGIF Biolo- 
gist Brian Watson, who rattles off a 
long list: "Vegetation, fish, aquatic in- 
sects, snails, small mussels, salaman- 
ders, and even other crayfish." We 
also know that an equally long list of 
creatures eat crayfish, including 
muskrats, raccoons, aquatic birds 
and, of course, other crayfish. Their 
primary predator is fish. Crayfish are 
an especially important part of the 
diet for bass, and "declines in cray- 
fish can lead to declines in sport- 
fish like bass," according to 

Big Sandy Crayfist), endangered 
(Cambarus veteranus) 



To these lists of predators and 
prey, we can add the facts that cray- 
fish are relatively short-lived, fairly 
sensitive to water quality and habitat 
degradation, and are dirt movers and 
tunnel diggers. Their tunnel-digging 
habit likely influences other species. 
As crayfish move dirt and sediment 
around, they alter the soil structure 
and create niches where aquatic 
plants may take root. 

Many questions remain, however 
The biggest among these is also the 
simplest: How many crayfish species 
are there in Virginia? The current best 
estimate is 24 native species of cray- 
fish, and four non-native species. Of 
these, 13 species are identified as 
"species of greatest conservation 
need" by the Virginia Wildlife Actitvi 
Plan, which seeks to identify and pro- 
tect Virginia's wildlife species that are 
most at risk. The big sandy crayfish 
(Cambarus veteranus) — native only to 
Virginia, West Virginia, and Ken- 

tucky — is included on the state en- 
dangered species list. 

Twenty-four species is a lot of 
crayfish. Virginia ranks in the top 
25% of states for crayfish diversity. 
But the tally is "in a bit of flux," says 
Watson, who believes there may be 
other species hiding in remote creeks 
and streams. "I would not be sur- 
prised to see another half dozen new 
species." Some of those species al- 
most certainly will be added to Vir- 
ginia's already lengthy list of conser- 
vation-needy arthropods. But, before 
that happens, we first need to identi- 
fy them. 


"The first step to conserving them 
is going to be learning more about 
them," says Burkett. 

The path to finding those current- 
ly unknown species is a wet and 
soggy one, leading through Vir- 
ginia's creeks, ponds, and marshy 
areas. Too many for Burkett, Watson, 
and other DGIF staff to survey alone. 
One solution may be Virginia's Mas- 
ter Nattiralists, a statewide collection 
of volunteers who are dedicateci to 
the management of Virginia's natural 
resources and wild areas. In a trial 
program launched last summer, the 
Blue Ridge Foothills & Lakes Master 
Naturalist Chapter — ^based in Rocky 
Mount, Virginia — collected crayfish 
and aquatic snails from Smith Moun- 
tain Lake for the DGIF. 

""They are literally putting more 
boots on the ground," explains Bur- 
kett, who hopes to see the program 
expand to other Master Naturalist 

apters across the state this summer. 

Crayfish mound 


cAct \\p\\d 

Here are three simple ways you 
can help Virginia's crayfish and 
other aquatic species: 

1. Crayfish — and many other 
aquatic species— are very sensitive 
to pesticides, fertilizers, and other 
chemicals. By reducing or eliminat- 
ing the chemicals you use around 
your house, you will help aquatic 
animals throughout your region. 

2. Join Virginia's Master Natural- 
ists for a chance to make a real dif- 
ference with Virginia's wildlife. 
Master Naturalist chapters are lo- 
cated throughout the state and al- 
ways welcome new members. Visit 
for more information. 

3. Splash through a creek and turn 
over a few stones with the children 
in your life. Early adventures help 
children learn about the world 
around them, and teach them to 
care for wild places and the ani- 
mals and plants that live there. 


The program's beauty 
lies in its siniplicity. Fol- 
lowing a day of classroom 
instruction — including 
tips on collecting and iden- 
tifying crayfish — Master 
Naturalists take to the field to 
collect crayfish, snails, and other 
freshwater invertebrates. Any col- 
lected specimens are then sent to 
Watson, who identifies the species 
and enters the information into a 

statewide database of crayfish sight- 
ings. The data are already helping ex- 
pand our knowledge of crayfish dis- 
tribution in the state. Eventually, this 
information will help DGIF make 
conservation decisions about cray- 
fish and other aquatic species. 

But why go to all this trouble to 

count a few reclusive crayfish in 

backwater streams and 

creeks? "As with any 

aquatic species I work 

with, I tell people you 

White River Crayfish 
(Procambarus acutus) 

Trout are crayfish predators. 

do not need to care about crayfish, 
but you better care about what they 
are telling you," says Watson. "If 
crayfish are absent, or if their num- 
bers are depressed within a stream or 
a watershed, that is a clear indication 
that something is wrong. That the en- 
vironment is unhealthy." 

Crayfish are fairly sensitive to the 
quality of their water and habitat. 
Disturbances to their aquatic envi- 
rons — such as pollution, nearby con- 
struction, changes in water flow — 
can have dramatic and negative im- 
pacts on crayfish populations. This 
means that crayfish are a good 
bioindicator species — a species 
whose presence or absence tells us 

Blue Crawfish 

(Cambarus monongalensis) 

about the relative health of the 
ecosystem. Put another way, a pond 
or creek without crayfish is probably 
an unhealthy pond or creek, possibly 
contaminated with chemicals or del- 
uged with debris from nearby con- 

But crayfish can play another role 
as bioindicators. They can help us 
identify areas where the water is 

clean and the ecosystem is healthy. 
Populations rebound quickly when 
problems are resolved and habitats are 
restored to their natural condition. 
Their numbers often return to healthy 
levels much faster than the aquatic 
snails and mussels that may eventual- 
ly repopulate the area. This means that 
crayfish may be able to help biologists 
recognize whether a habitat restora- 
tion project has been successful, or 
needs additional work. By studying 
our crayfish, we may learn more about 
the health of entire watersheds. 

And, the health of our watersheds 
is not something we can take for grant- 
ed. "If you look at the Virginia Wildlife 
Action Plan, you'll see that about 60% 
of our species of greatest need are 
aquatic," explains Burkett. By learning 
more about our crayfish, we will learn 
more about all of the state's aquatic 
species. The clues they provide will 
help us identify the places that most 
need our help. By protecting our cray- 
fish, we will be protecting our great 
blue herons, largemouth bass, ducks, 
beavers, and more. And, because we 
rely on the same waterways that these 
creatures do, we will also be protecting 
ourselves — ensuring our water is 
clean, healthy, and safe for drinking 
and fishing and playing. 

"We are only as healthy as our envi- 
ronment," says Watson. "Crayfish can 
help provide this diagnosis." D 

Cristina Santiestevan writes about wildlife and 
the enviroimu'iitfroin her home in Virginia 's Blue 
Ridge Mountains. 

nfiiiiSr bv^M 



flwid th^fQstpaciZ 

oftlawpton Roads, 

r^§idiznt§ hav^ 




•-^ rare in Virginia to trav- 
2^S el into a city to en- 
^ — ^ counter the creatures 
that inhabit the commonwealth's 
more wild stretches, but a place in 
Portsmouth is proving that "urban" 
and "nature" are not mutually exclu- 
sive. Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve, 
or HCWP, is a 142-acre refuge located 

Signage helps visitors identify species 
that thrive within the sanctuary. 

in Portsmouth's northwestern cor- 
ner. It is free and open to the public 
Tuesday-Saturday. As one of the few 
remaining undeveloped parcels in 
the city, and the last one on Hoffler 
Creek, the preserve is fast becoming a 
natural respite for people who live 
and work in the bustling region of 
southeast Virginia, and rightly so. It is 
one of the commonwealth's rare 
gems: an urban wildlife preserve. 

Perhaps as remarkable as a nature 
preserve within city limits is the ex- 
traordinary grassroots effort 
launched by private citizens to turn 
this large tract into a wildlife sanctu- 
ary. For much of the 19th and 20th 
centuries, Hoffler Creek's eastern 
bank was the farm of Luther Ballard 
and his descendents. In 1970, the Bal- 

JUNE 2010 

Members of the Hannpton Roads Bird Club tal<e to the woods during one of their 
many meetings at HCWP. 

Cover along Lake Ballard's shoreline provides excellent habitat for both land- 
and water-based creatures. 

lard family sold the property, and it 
eventually became a borrow pit that 
provided sand for state road con- 
struction projects. When the pit 
reached the end of its usefulness, the 
commonwealth was prepared to sell 
the land for development. There was 
ample waterfront property and the 
borrow pit, which had naturally 
filled with water, turned into a hand- 

some 35-acre lake. It was a develop- 
er's dream. 

A handful of local residents, how- 
ever, considered a different use for 
the land. Among them was Randi 
Strutton, who lives just a few streets 
over from Hoffler Creek. Strutton 
and her neighbors set out to draw up 
alternative site plans, namely that the 
land be allowed to return to a natural 


state. It was a tough sell; city officials 
had to be convinced that a nature pre- 
serve would benefit the community 
more than the taxes that would come 
with developing the property. In the 
end, citing the aesthetic, educational, 
and recreational benefits, Strutton 
and her neighbors were successful. 
Government officials accepted their 
formal plan for Hoffler Creek 
Wildlife Preserve and the common- 
wealth sold the land to the city for 
one dollar. Strutton now serves as the 
executive director of Hoffler Creek 
Wildlife Foundation, a position she 
has held for all but one of the last fif- 
teen years. 

In the decade and a half since the 
heavy equipment moved out, 
HCWP has become a place teeming 
with wildlife that would otherwise 
have a tough time eking out a living 
on the city streets nearby. Several dis- 
tinct habitats foster numerous 
ecosystems that allow all sorts of 
creatures to thrive, thanks in part to 
very limited development on the site. 
There are a few small buildings, 
trails, bird blinds and observation 
decks, but the vast majority of the 
land has been allowed to grow with- 
out human interference. 

Hoffler Creek is a tidal tributary of 
Hampton Roads. It is brackish be- 
cause each high tide washes in a fresh 
supply of salt water from the lower 
Chesapeake Bay. The creek's marshy 
edges are lined with cordgrass, on 
which periwinkles feed on algae. 
Fish and shellfish inhabit the creek, 
and it's easy to spot these creatures 
flitting about in the shallow water 
from the preserve's appropriately 

named "oyster pier." The creek and 
small fingers that extend into the 
marsh provide food for all manner of 
birds — herons, egrets, ospreys, even 
bald eagles. 

The center of the preserve is also 
an aquatic ecosystem, albeit much 
different than' Hoffler Creek. Lake 
Ballard's salinity certainly doesn't 
detract from its biodiversity. The lake 
itself, as well as the edge community 
that surrounds it, are home to plants 
and animals that spend their lives in 
and around the water: wild berries, 
dragonflies, turtles, fish, and water- 
fowl. Some of them are permanent; 
others come and go with the seasons. 

the 1960s when their vegetable farm 
fell on hard times. A few pieces of the 
Ballards' old farming equipment still 
lie where the family abandoned them 
decades ago, now dwarfed by the 
trees that have grown up around 
them. Other than the pines, dog- 

In the decade and a half since the 
heavy equipment moved out, 
HCWP has become a place teem- 
ing with wildlife that would other- 
wise have a tough time eking out 
a living on the city streets nearby. 

Kids attempt to net grass shrimp, mummichogs, and other aquatic life during a 
"Creel< Critters" program at l-iCWP. 

These species in turn provide food 
and shelter for larger mammals such 
as otters, cottontails, red foxes, and 
whitetails, many of whom are only 
visitors to the edge of the lake and 
spend much of their time hidden in 
the forest around its rim. 

The trees that surround Lake Bal- 
lard and line the edges of Hoffler 
Creek's marsh comprise a riparian 
forest — meaning it is adjacent to 
a body of water, or in the case 
of HCWP, two bodies of 
water. Many of the trees that 
make up this forest are loblolly 
pine, planted by the Ballard family in 

wood, white oak. Southern magno- 
lia, and others have managed to 
make a home for themselves in the 
forest. Non-native species like peri- 
winkle and English ivy have carved 
out a home, too. HCWP staff mem- 
bers have placed identifying markers 
in front of trailside flora, giving visi- 
tors a chance to connect a species' 
name with real-life examples. 

Wild animals are not the only ben- 
eficiaries of the Hoffler Creek 
Wildlife Foundation's stewardship. 
Local school groups have been using 
the preserve for their studies, accord- 
ing to Ashby Williams, HCWP's pro- 


Red fox; ©Maslowsid Photo 

grams director. Home school and 
other private groups, such as the Boy 
Scouts, are frequent visitors to the 
preserve. Students from local public 
schools have been monitoring oys- 
ters here, although Williams says that 
tight budgets in public schools have 
meant fewer field trips in recent 
years. Instead of waiting for students 
to come to her, Williams also con- 
ducts outreach programs, traveling 
to classrooms around the region and 
offering the lessons that HCWP has 
to share. 

Local universities have found 
Hoffler Creek useful for instruction, 
too, says Dr. Jessica Thompson, assis- 

A pair of great-horned owls is released after 
being rehabilitated by HCWP professionals. 

tant professor of biology at Christo- 
pher Newport University. For the 
past two years, Thompson and a 
team of student researchers have 
been conducting studies of the mum- 
michog, a small fish found on the 
eastern seaboard that inhabits Hof- 
fler Creek. The researchers are ana- 
lyzing the movement and diet of 
mummichogs, trying to explain why 
the fish travel from the marsh to the 
creek at considerable cost in terms of 

Thompson is glad that Hoffler 
Creek is accessible and protected. 
"There's no comparable place cer- 

JUNE 2010 

tainly in Portsmouth, and in Hamp- 
ton Roads there's only a handful of 
places scientists can work with," she 
says. Thompson explains that her 
studies in Hoffler Creek have raised 
additional issues that she is research- 
ing. "The mummichogs in Hoffler 
Creek don't seem to move around a 
lot," she says. "It's likely that the 
marsh is a pretty high quality habitat 
for them so they don't have to move 
around to find what they need to eat. 
Also, because it's a small system, they 
don't have to go very far." 

By all accounts, HCWP has been 
well received. It is a site on the Vir- 
ginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, the 
Captain John Smith Chesapeake Na- 
tional Historic Trail and the Star- 
Spangled Banner Geocaching Trail. 
The preserve continues to attract in- 
creasing numbers of visitors and 
local volunteers have contributed 
thousands of man hours of service, 
helping to make the preserve more 
user-friendly, maintaining trails and 
planting shoreline-stabilizing native 
species, for instance. 

One of the staff's primary chal- 
lenges, says Assistant Director Ash- 
ley Morgan, is hosting programs that 
attract visitors who might not nor- 
mally wish to spend time outside. In 
addition to organizing programs that 
one might traditionally associate 
with a wildlife preserve — ^bird walks 
and kayak tours, for instance — 
HCWP staff are also adding interest- 
ing twists — health and fitness classes, 
for example. The idea is to engage 
visitors in leisure activities they enjoy 
at the preserve. "Our goal over the 

next few years is to increase the num- 
ber of events and expand outdoor op- 
portunities," says Morgan. "Last 
year we tried 'Sunset Serenades' 
where people came out and had wine 
and hors d'oeuvres and watched the 
sunset, and that is absolutely enjoy- 
ing the outdoors." 

The staff's years of proven stew- 
ardship and innovative program- 
ming still can't overcome pressing 
challenges. The city of Portsmouth, 
facing falling revenues, recently cut 
their contribution to HCWP's mea- 
ger budget by a third. Staff must con- 
stantly justify public funding to elect- 
ed officials. Maintenance also re- 
quires persistent attention. Last 
year's nor'easter, for instance, dam- 
aged the preserve's oyster pier — one 
of the man-made structures that 
make wildUfe more accessible to visi- 

Their challenges notwithstand- 
ing, HCWP staff are proud to work in 
a place where people more accus- 
tomed to city living have the oppor- 
tunity to appreciate one of Virginia's 
green spaces. And they have plenty 
of happy visitors and flourishing 
populations of wildlife to show for it. 

Ben Swenson is a high school teacher and 
freelance writer living in Williamsburg. 

For More Information 

Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve is located 
at 45 1 0Twin Pines Rd. in Portsmouth. 
Call the preserve at 757-686-8684 or 
visit the website, 



Murray's Shiner 



Choosing a shiner streamer and casting ahead of a fleeing school of shiner minnows often produces success. Photo, Dwight Dyke 

by Harry Murray 

5mallmouth bass throughout 
Virginia feed heavily upon 
minnows and fly flshermen 
can catch many large fish on stream- 
ers which match them. 

In order for you to take advantage 
of this exciting fishing let's see what 
these minnows are, the areas of the 
streams in which you can find each 
one, the best fly patterns to match 


them and the best tactics to use. 
Some of these minnows are present 
in greater numbers and are more 
easily accessible to the bass at certain 
times of the year so let's investigate 
them on a seasonal basis. 

One minnow upon which the 
bass feed heavily early in the season 
is the shiner. These are schooling 
minnows and at this time many of 
them live on gravel bars in water up 
to two feet deep. 

The bass apparently are hungry in 
the cool water; you will frequently 
see them chasing shiner minnows in 
the shallows. Fishing to these ma- 
rauding bass is very exciting because 
you are after a specific fish. One of 
the most successful tactics is to cast a 
shiner streamer such as the Silver 
Outcast or the Murray's Shiner out in 
front of a school of fleeing shiner 
minnows as they splash through the 
shallows. You will seldom see the 


Bmallmouth Tactics 

John Coleman admires a large bass he caught by fishing a streamer along the bottom of the river. 

bass but you know he is close behind 
the minnows, so strip your streamer 
broadside through the school of min- 
nows to get his attention. 

Once the aquatic grassbeds form 
in the summer many shiner min- 
nows live in them, and fishing a shin- 
er streamer along these areas is very 

Shiner minnows live in most of 
the smallmouth rivers in Virginia. 
The Clinch River upstream of Nash's 

JUNE 2010 

Ford and the South Fork of the 
Shenandoah River tiownstream of 
Luray are especially productive areas 
to fish with these shiner tactics. 

Sculpin minnows are bottom- 
huggers, living under stones ranging 
from Softball to basketball sizes in the 
riffles and heavy runs. This is a pro- 
ductive area for beginning anglers to 
fish because the bass in this fast water 
are not wary and they will hit a fly 
quickly. Many of the anglers in my fly 

fishing schools catch many nice bass 
here. My favorite two sculpin pat- 
terns are Shenk's Sculpin and Mur- 
ray's Madtom/ Sculpin Streamer. 

A great way to fish these riffles 
and runs is to start just upstream of 
them and cast your sculpin streamer 
across the water. After it sinks deeply, 
swim it along the stream bottom by 
stripping it six inches every five sec- 
onds with your line hand. Wade 
slowly down the river, pausing every 


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Murray's Chub Streamer 

A\\o\N a mudcum/sculpin streamer to sink deeply before stripping and pulling to 
mimic the behavior of njadtoms. 

areas where natural madtoms live 
and use streamers which match 
them. These minnows, which look 
like young catfish, are present in 
great numbers around and under 
cobblestones in the tails of the pools. 
At night they come out to roam these 
areas in order to feed on insects and 
small minnows. They will often re- 
main active for the first two hours of 
the day and the bass feed heavily 
upon them. Early morning is the 
peak period for this feeding, but the 
bass eat madtoms throughout the 

The Murray's Madtom/Sculpin 
Streamer is the most consistent fly 
I've found to mimic these minnows. 
A very effective tactic is to enter the 
side of the pools about two hundred 
feet upstream of where its tail emp- 
ties out into the downstream riffle. 
Cast across stream and allow the 

five feet to repeat this casting and 
streamer-swimming tactic. In most 
streams there are one to two hundred 
feet of good sculpin water below 
such riffles and runs. 

The Rappahannock River up- 
stream of Kelly's Ford and the James 
River downstream from Howards- 
ville have great sculpin minnow pop- 
ulations and will give you great 
smallmouth fishing with streamers 
which match them. 

If you like to fish early in the 
morning and you enjoy catching 
large bass you should explore the 

streamer to sink deeply. A slow strip- 
ping action where the streamer is re- 
trieved in several four-inch pulls 
every ten seconds conveys the natu- 
ral swimming action of the real mad- 
toms. Wade slowly down the river, 
pausing every several steps to repeat 
this streamer fishing tactic and I be- 
lieve you'll be pleased with the num- 
ber of large bass you will catch. 

Natural madtoms are present in 
most of Virginia's smallmouth rivers 
but two are worth special note. The 
James River and the North Fork of 
the Shenandoah River have great 
populations of madtoms. 

Creek chub minnows are possibly 
the most broadly distributed min- 
nows in Virginia's smallmouth 
rivers. If you find yourself on a new 
stream and you are not sure what fly 
to use, you can usually get great fish- 
ing with a creek chub matching 
streamer. Fortunately we have two 
excellent patterns. Ed Shenk's White 
Streamer is great for water up to four 
feet deep with a moderate current, 
and Murray's Chub Streamer is very 
productive in deeper water or where 
there is a fast current. 

The across-stream tactics you use 
with sculpins and madtoms are effec- 
tive with these chub streamers. 
Fiowever, there is an additional 
method which will give you some of 
your largest bass, especially in the 
deep runs and pools. 

TJiis is a method I call "sweeping a 
streamer." You set yourself up so you 
are right beside the deep area you 
plan to fish. Your first cast is made up 
and across stream at a forty-five de- 
gree angle twenty feet out. The 
streamer is allowed to sink on a slack 
line. Use a 9-foot Bright Butt Leader 
with one Scientific Anglers Indicator 
in the butt section of the leader and 
one in the next leader strand down. 
Watch the indicators closely, and as 
the uppermost one begins sinking 
out of sight you know your streamer 
is close to the bottom of the stream. 
This is your cue to begin a smooth 
downstream sweeping action with 
your fly rod held high at a forty-five 
degree angle out over the stream. 



If you do your homework and match your streamer to the minnows present, you have a good chance of landing a 
nice smallmouth. 

This motion should be fast enough to 
maintain a tight line on the streamer 
but not fast enough to pull the fly rap- 
idly down the stream. When you feel 
the strike, set the hook firmly with 
your line hand and rod. 

Successive casts are made several 
feet farther up and out into the river 
until you have covered all the water 
out to thirty feet; then wade down- 
stream, stopping every ten feet to re- 
peat the secjuence. 

This "sweeping a streamer" tech- 
nique is very effective because it will 
enable you to fish your flies deeper 
than any other method you can use 
with a floating line. 

Natural crawfish are a very rich 
food for smallmouth bass. Although 
they are not minnows, I'm includ- 
ing them here because the tactics 
we use when fishing them are 
much like those used when fish- 

JUNE 2010 

ing minnow imitations. My favorite 
two flies to match these are Singer's 
Crawfish and Clouser's Turkey 

Natural crawfish are very active in 
low-light levels, such as those at 
dawn and dusk and in slightly discol- 
ored water. Many of them live under 
stones ranging from softball to bas- 
ketball sizes in water from two to four 
feet deep, so fishing your flies here is 
very productive. 

A good tactic is to wade down the 
side of the river close to the bank 
where you see these stones and cast 
your crawfish fly out across stream. 
After it sinks deeply crawl in across 
the stream bottom with a slow hand- 

twisting action. Wade slowly down 
the river and cover all of the stone- 
bottom part of the stream as you go. 

The New River below Radford 
and the South Fork of the Shenan- 
doah upstream from Front Royal 
hold great crawfish populations, and 
you can catch many nice bass on 
these flies. 

All smallmouth bass feed on inin- 
nows. By evaluating the rivers to de- 
termine the specific minnows found 
in the area you plan to fish and choos- 
ing matching streamers, you will 
enjoy many rewarding trips. D 

Harry Murray is the owner of Murray's Fly 
Slwp ill Ediiilnir^. He has written luinierous 
books and articles on fly-fishing. 

Clouser's Turkey Crawfish 

Singer's Crawfish 

2009 Angler 
Hall of Fame 

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' 
Hall of Fame list is a compilation of all the freshwater 
anglers who qualified for advanced awards in the Angler Recognition Program. 

To achieve the status of Master Angler I, five trophy fish of different species must be 
caught and registered with the Virginia Angler Recognition Program. For Master II, 10 trophy 
fish of different species must be caught, and so on for the Master III or IV level. Expert anglers 
must catch and register 10 trophy fish of the same species. 

Each angler that accomplishes this feat receives a Master Angler or Expert Angler certifi- 
cate and patch. Expert patches include the species on the patch. There is no fee or application 
for Master or Expert. 

If you have records prior to 1995 and believe you may have obtained this angling status, 
please call the Virginia Angler Recognition Program at (804) 367-1293 to have your records 

The Creel-of-the-Year Award recognizes the angler who accounts for the most trophy-size 
fish caught and registered in the Angler Recognition Program from January 1 through Decem- 
ber 31, annually. 


Kevin Adcock 
Kenneth Ames, Sr. 
Frank Beavers, Jr. 
James Belcher, III 
Thomas Biller 
Edward Brooks, Jr. 
Robert Bruce 
James Butler, II 
Lyn Caldwell, III 
James Cannoy, Jr. 
Joseph Church, Jr. 
Donald Coleman 
Bobby Coleman 
Norman Cox, Jr. 
Thomas Crittendon 
Franklin Dalton 
Michael Davis 
James Davis, Jr. 
Kevin Deal 
Christopher Deane 
Timothy Dixon 
Ricky Dodge 
West Donley 
Ernest Downey, Jr. 
Robert Eades 
Auther Eggleston,Jr. 
Brian Epperley 
Bernard Epperly, Jr. 
James Ervin 
Christopher Ervin 

Paul Farkas 
Jason Fender 
Christopher Fitzgerald 
John Fox 
Roy Fridley, Sr. 
Jerry Gallagher 
Charles Gentry, Jr. 
Kevin Glass 
Hunter Griffitts 
Joey Hall 
Allen Hodges 
Robert Holmes, Sr. 
David Hull, Jr. 
Timothy Jarrell 
Ronald Jeffords 
Gary Johnson 
Leroy Johnson 
George Joly, Jr. 
Shane Keeble 
Joseph Keesee,Jr. 
William Kost, Jr. 
Kenneth Lampert,Jr. 
Chuck Leon 
Jarod Mann 
David Marsico 
William McCabe, III 
Michael McCormick 
Joshua Miklandric 
Shannon Miklandric 
Marcus Mitchell 
Christopher Mueller 
Travis Pangle 

Christopher Parsley 
Ronnie Phillips 
James Pike 
Hank Rakes, Sr. 
David Reed 
Joshua Regula 
Robert Reynolds 
Joseph Rhodes 
Robert Rivenbark,Sr. 
Bruce Robertson 
Jeffrey Ross 
James Shelton 
Michael Sielicki 
Joshua Spicer 
Kenneth Stone 
Robert Svensson 
Roy Taylor 
Richard Tolley,Sr. 
Carlton Updike, Jr. 
William Wallace, Jr. 
David Walton 
Scott Waterman 
Jonathan Wickham 
Richard Wolford 
Robert Wood, Sr. 
Guy Woods 


Stephen Cromer, Sr. 
Kendall Hall 

Randy Hughes 
Lawrence lson,Jr. 
Charles Kincaid, Jr. 
David Stacy 
Paul Wray 


JoeBurwell, Sr. 


Largemouth Bass 

James Beard 
Dean Blankenship 
Stephen Brown 
Terry Cox, Jr. 
Donald Dabney, Sr. 
Jack Eubank 
Thom Hagen 
Ray Hairfield 
Wayland HorrelUr. 
Jerry Hoyle, Jr. 
Tripp Lightner, III 
Darrell Mayo 
David Nelson 
Brooks Noble 
Gary Owen 
Donnie Perry 
Joseph Rhodes 

Kenneth Roller 
Larry Scarborough, Sr. 
Robert Shiro, Jr. 
Christopher Stanley, Sr. 

Smallmouth Bass 

Rockey Burleson 
JoeBurwell, Sr. 
N. Scott Meyerhoffer 
Jeffery Warter 
William Yost 


Charles Daniel 
Robert Highlander, Jr. 


Jimmie Edwards 
John Faulcon,Jr. 
Russell Glenn, II 
Dean Harcum 
Cecil Johnston 
Michael Marks 
Jacob Nun 
Manuel Porter 
Franklin Pulley, Jr. 
Jesse Redd 
Kevin Seimetz 
Hiram Smith, IV 
Mark Wood 
Wade Wright 

White Perch 

Kenneth Runyon,Sr. 
AlanStrbavy, Sr. 

Channel Catfish 

Richard Montgomery 
Kenneth Runyon, Jr. 

Blue Catfish 

Brian Allen 
Mark Anderson 
Dean Baker 
James Boothe 
Darian Brown 
Jonathan Cosby 
Robert Dykes 
William Goldsmith 
Robert Grinstead, Jr. 
Billy Mayhew 
Jack Rakes, Jr. 
LeRoyRice, Jr. 
James Taylor 
Ryan Taylor 
Norma Woodward 

Rainbow Trout 

Michael Bowling 
Gordon Bryant 
Glenn Clingenpeel 
Walter Crouch, Jr. 


Michael Ewell 
Mark Fields 
Jonathan Haga 
Spencer Musick 
David Sadler 
Billy Tosh 

Brook Trout 

James Belcher, III 
Danny Dugan 
Patrick Funkhouser 
Kevin Glass 
Stephen Miklandric 
Kenneth Sardegna 

Brown Trout 


Chain Pickerel 

Gregory Hicks 


Teddy Blevins 
Michael Coleman 
Kenneth Dalton 
William Haines 
Ron Lorden 
Christopher Rhoades 
Cecil Welcher, Sr. 


Raymond Perrin, I 
David Shelton 

Yellow Perch 

Steven Blehm 
Michael Bowling 
Milton Bowling 
William Buck, Jr. 
Frank Camp 
James Davis 
Jeffery Downey 
Adam Frost 
Tommy Hayes 

Robert Highlander, Jr. 
Andrew Hill, II 
James Marcum 
James McCain, III 
Chase McKinney 
Hunter McKinney 
John Nicholson, Sr. 
Jeffery Ross 
William Woods 


Gary Harmon 
Kevin Gunn 


Leonard Corum 

Creel of 
the Year 

Roy Taylor -36 
Blue Catfish (1) 
Chain Pickerel (2) 
Yellow Perch (32) 



Largemouth Bass, 16 lbs. 8 oz., 26 Vi in. 
Smallmouth Bass, 7 lbs. 2 oz., 23 in. 
Crappie, 3 lbs. 12 oz., 17 Vi in. 
Rock Bass, 1 lbs. 9 oz., 11 Yz in. 
Rock Bass, 1 lbs. 9 oz., 12 in. 
Rock Bass, 1 lbs. 9 oz., 13 in. 
Sunfish, 2 lbs. 8 oz., 12 % in. 
White Bass, 3 lbs. 4 oz., 19 in. 
Hybrid Striper, 13 lbs. oz. 
Freshwater Drum, 12 lbs. 4 oz. 
Striped Bass, 36 lbs. oz., 43 in. 
White Perch, 2 lb. 5 oz. 
Channel Catfish, 24 lbs. 14 oz, 38 in. 
Blue Catfish, 90 lbs. oz., 52 in. 
Flathead Catfish, 49 lbs. oz. , 49 % in. 
Rainbow Trout, 12 lbs. 8 oz., 32 in. 
Brook Trout, 6 lbs. 4 oz., 21 % in. 
Brown Trout, 10 lbs., oz., 25 in. 
Chain Pickerel, 6 lbs. 5 oz., 31 in. 
Muskellunge, 39 lbs. 12 oz., 52 in. 
Northern Pike, 16 lbs., 5 oz., 42 in. 
Walleye, 11 lbs. 4 oz., 31 Yi in. 
Yellow Perch, 2 lbs. oz., 13 in. 
Gar, 22 lbs. 6 oz. 
Bowfin, 12 lbs. 5 oz., 30 % in. 
Carp, 38 lbs. 14 oz., 41 7* in. 


James Wood, St. Stephens Church, VA 
J. Mitch Saville, Blacksburg, VA 
Shon Roberts, Danville, VA 
Richard Wolford, Stony Creek, VA 
Mark Ferguson, Lynchburg, VA 
Carlos Thomas, Jr., Martinsville, VA 
John Hughes, Keysville, VA 
Charles Jarvis, Waynesboro, VA 
Robert Rakes, Christiansburg, VA 
James Cannoy, Jr., Martinsville, VA 
Diana Felbinger, Hampton, VA 
Alan Strbavy, Sr., Virginia Beach, VA 
Lee Rush, Colonial Heights, VA 
Derek Mayhew, Gretna, VA 
David Elvington, Stuart, VA 
Mark Eavers, Greenville, VA 
Daniel Rhymer, Gatlinburg, TN 
Julian Heron, Jr., Great Falls, VA 
Jamerson Gallihugh, Gordonsville, VA 
Philip Mabe, Max Meadows, VA 
Guy Woods, Broadway, VA 
Jerry Casstevens, Mt. Airy, NC 
Weldon Garber, Harrisonburg, VA 
Leonard Corum, Dolphin, VA 
Roy Cook, Sr., Richmond, VA 
Randall Alford, Willis, VA 


Private Pond 
New River 
Buggs Island Lake 
Nottoway River 
Falling River 
Smith River 
Private Pond 
Smith Mountain Lake 
Claytor Lake 
Buggs Island Lake 
Smith Mountain Lake 
Elizabeth River 
Appomattox River 
James River 
Buggs Island Lake 
Cedar Springs 
Cedar Springs 
Beaver Creek 
Lake Anna 
New River 
Lake Laura 
Claytor Lake 
Lake Moomaw 
Lake Gaston 
Chickahominy Lake 
New River 



PLEASE NOTE: You can find all you need to know about the Trophy Fish Program at or call 804-367-1293. 



2010 Outdoor 
Calendar of Events 

Unless otherwise noted, for current infor- 
mation and registration on workshops go 
to the "Upcoming Events" page on our 
website at or call 

June 4—6: Free Fishing Days. 

June 5-19: Spring squirrel season, 
certain areas. 

June 15: Nature Photography Day. 
For more information go to 
http: / / / nature_ 
photography _day_event.php. 

June 21-27: National Pollinators Week, 
For more information: www.pollin / pollinator_week_2010.htm. 

July 20: Flat Out Catfish I, Pony 
Pasture, James River, Richmond. 

July 29 & 31, August 5, 7, &10: 

Flash Clinic: How to Use Your Camera's 
Flash, with Lynda Richardson at 
Lewis Ginter Botamcal Garden. 
Call (804) 262-9887 X322 or go to 

August 13-15: Virginia Outdoor 
Sportsman Show, Richmond; 

August 20-22: Mother-Daughter 
Outdoors Weekend, Holiday Lake4-H 
Center, Appomattox. 

August 10: Flat Out Catfish II, Pony 
Pasture, James River, Richmond. 

August 28: Jakes Event; Page Valley 
Sportsman's Club; contact Art 
Kasson at (540) 622-6103 or 

September 11:-12 Eastern Regional 
Big Ga)ne Contest, 

September 25-26: Western Regional 
Big Game Contest and State Champi- 
onship, D 

Building for Bluebirds 

by Tom Teeples 

It was 1970 and bluebirds were in de- 
cline; perhaps the nadir of Sialia sialis 
in U.S. history. Habitat was disap- 
pearing and competition from other 
cavity nesters was fierce. The blue- 
bird was in trouble. In that same year, 
the first Audubon chapter in Virginia 
was formed on tlie Northern Neck. 
The Northern Neck Audubon Socie- 
ty (NNAS) got itself organized and 
stabilized and in 1975 established the 
"Bring Back Bluebirds to Virginia" 

Bluebird nesting boxes were 
built and sold at local stores. That 
first year, 50 boxes were made and 
sold for $3 each. When they sold out 
immediately, additional nesting 
boxes had to be built. The bluebird 
nesting box program is still going 
strong and NNAS has never looked 
back. In recent years, the chapter has 
constructed close to 1,000 boxes an- 

Box construction runs complete- 
ly through volunteer effort. The 
building process has undergone 
many changes: work jigs are now 
used to hold box parts in place; auto- 
matic nailers are used. The original 
boxes were built in a member's 
garage. Now the boxes are made, as- 
sembly-line style, in the workshop of 
Albert Pollard, Sr. in White Stone. 

NNAS is actively involved in the 
monitoring of three bluebird trails. 
Checked weekly throughout the 
breeding season, trail data are collect- 
ed on the number of eggs, the num- 
ber of young, and the number of 
young that successfully fledge. One 
trail has been monitored for the last 
four years; Belle Isle State Park is 
being monitored for the second year; 
and the Menokin trail has been 
added this year. Together, the three 
trails total more than 100 boxes! D 

Tom Tccples has been iiivohed ivitJi Northern 
Neck Audubon since 1991, includhig tzoo stints 
as president. He is a certified Virginia Master 


Eleven-year-old i-larhson Turney with his 
first spring turkey killed on Youth Spring 
Turkey hlunting Day. The turkey sported a 
10-inch beard and weighed 22 lbs. It was 
called in by his Papa, Bob Turney. Harrison 
also caught his first trout the same day. 



The State Record Fish Committee of the Vir- 
ginia Department of Game and Inland Fish- 
eries has certified a new state record yel- 
low perch caught by Mr George L. Mullins 
of Haysi, Virginia. The 3-pound monster 
was caught on March 8th from Flannagan 
Reservoir, an unexpected location for this 
species. Yellow perch have never officially 
been stocked in Flannagan, and in fact, Mr. 
Mullins, who regularly fishes the lake, was- 
n't sure what he had at first for that very 
reason. This breaks the previous record of 2 
pounds, 7 ounces that was caught from 
Lake Moomaw and had stood since 1999. 
For a complete list of the current State 
Record Freshwater Fish, visit the Depart- 
ment's website at 


by Beth Hester 

Life Along the Inner Coast: A 

Naturalist's Guide to the Sounds, 

Inlets, Rivers, and Intracoastal 

Watenvaysfrom Norfolk to 

Key West 

by Robert and Alice Jane Lippson 


University of North Carolina Press 



"The hiner Coast is a place of discovery. 
In many areas there is an ovenvhelmiiig 
feeling of remoteness, and yet it is close to 
many major cities. " 

-Robert and Alice Lippson 

Think of the Atlantic Intracoastal Wa- 
terway (ICW) as the scenic by-way of 
the southeastern coastal plain. This 
fluid highway starts at the southern- 
most end of the Chesapeake Bay at 

mile marker zero in Norfolk, flows 
down through the Dismal Swamp 
and Albemarle canals, and ends 
some 1,243 miles later in Key West, 

Running parallel to the eastern- 
most beaches and barrier islands of 
the Atlantic Coast, this system of 
rivers, sounds, marshes, lagoons, and 
varied backwaters supports some of 
the richest ecosystems on the planet. 
Though much of the ICW and sur- 
rounding waters are heavily devel- 
oped and regularly navigated, it is 
still a kind of Route 66 — a pilgrimage 
with plenty of hidden wonders wait- 
ing to be discovered. 

Of course, every good highway 
needs a guide, and Life Along the Inner 
Coast is the perfect traveling compan- 
ion. The authors are both marine sci- 
entists with years of experience 
studying and exploring both the 
Chesapeake Bay and the ICW. Their 
book documents well over 800 differ- 
ent species of flora and fauna, and the 
descriptions are accompanied by 
maps, by photographs, and by Alice 
Lippson's detailed line drawings. 

Explore ferns that thrive on the 
floors of maritime forests; find out 
how the green heron fishes with 
'found' tools; discover the 'cleaner' 
shrimp who wave around their deli- 
cate antennae to signal to passing fish 
that they are open for business. Final- 
ly, take advantage of the easy-to-use 
reference materials and charts locat- 
ed in the appendices. 

What makes this book really spe- 
cial is its format. Every mammal and 
mollusk, bird, fish, wetland plant, in- 
sect, and crustacean are viewed with- 
in the context of the habitat in wl-iich 
they are found, from forested wet- 
lancis and intertidal flats to mangrove 
swamps and oyster reefs. Even the 
humble denizens of pilings and float- 
ing docks are not forgotten. 

Because of its larger format, it's 
not a pocket guide of the type you'd 
keep in your backpack or glove box. 
But it is an excellent, and some might 
say essential, guide to understanding 
the plants and animals that call the 
ICW home. D 

Catch The Buzz: 

Celebrate the 4th Animal 

National Pollinator Week 

June 21-27, 2010 

by Beth Hester 

With one out of every third bite of 
food we consume dependant on bees 
and other animals for reprc^duction, 
the future of agriculture flies on the 
wings of pollinators: bats, bees, birds 
and butterflies. Protecting these 
hardworking heroes is the impetus 
for National Pollinator Week. Last 
year, more than 30 state governors 
signed state proclamations promot- 
ing National Pollinator Week, and the 
goal for 2010 is to have celebrations 
take place in all 50 states. 

The goal is to raise public aware- 
ness about the role pollinators play in 
the food chain, and the Pollinator 
Partnership is making certain promo- 
tional materials available to the pub- 
lic: posters, ring-tones, and educa- 
tional literature. In 2009, National 
Pollinator Week events were held in 
Richmond, Arlington, Leesburg, 
Midlothian, and Chesterfield. 

National Pollinator Week is a 
project of the North American Polli- 
nator Protection Campaign, which is 
managed by the Pollinator Partner- 
ship. For more information, and to 
find out about 2010 events nearby 
week 2010.htm. D 

Ri'purlHildlili' Violations 

JUNE 2010 


by Tom Guess 

f et's imagine — it's one of those per- 
1^ feet weekend days with a slight 
breeze in the air. You catch a whiff of 
sweet honeysuckle and it has you long- 
ing to liit the river in your kayak. 

You put on your life jacket and 
make sure everything is in order before 
sliding your boat in the water and 
heading downstream to scope things 
out. It isn't long before you find a spot 
that seems to be great for fishing. So 
you drift down the river a bit and just 
let the current pull you, lazily, as you 
wet a line and catch a few fish. You're 
thinking to yourself that it couldn't get 
much better than this. But what you 
don't realize is that it could get much 

As you continue drifting down- 
stream you suddenly realize that you 
are approaching a point in the water 
that looks like a small step or ripple all 
the way across the river. You secure 
your fishing pole on your kayak and 
turn it around to continue downstream 
to resume fishing. You don't know that 
you are about to cross a low head dam. 
What should you do? Stay away II 

Low head dams are deceptively 
dangerous and merit the name given to 
them, "drowning machines." Virginia 
has several of these killers on rivers 
throughout the state. Over the years, 
powerboats, canoes, kayaks, and swim- 
mers have all fallen victim to them. 

Low head dams may range from a 
25' drop-off to a mere 6" drop-off. Some 
dams are very wide and others, not 
wide at all. Interestingly, the character- 
istics of moving water are the same — 
regardless of the dam's size. And there- 
in lies the rub: Most people associate 
danger with a dam having a significant 
drop-off and fast-flowing water, but fail 
to realize the danger is just as great with 
a 2' or 3' dam face and moderate water 
flow. The dam design, depth, volume 
and water velocity combine to deter- 
mine the risk to boaters. 

Low Head Dams 

Danger lurks both above and 
below the structure. Water that is flow- 
ing over a drop forms a hole, or hy- 
draulic, at the base which can trap ob- 
jects washing over the drop. Backwash, 
or re-circulating current, is formed 
below the dam. Once swept over the 
top, a victim becomes trapped and is 
forced under water, pushed away from 
the dam, and then circulated to the top. 
The circulating motion (called a boil) 
then repeats this cycle over and over, as 
tlie individual is drawn back against 
the base of the dam. 

Dangers to Boaters: 

• Dams are difficult to spot from up- 
stream and often are not marked 
by signs or buoys. 

• Dam hydraulics are unpredictable. 

• Dams can deceive even experi- 
enced boaters. 

• The concrete walls at the side of the 
dam face block the exit route for in- 
dividuals trying to escape. 

• Areas immediately downstream 
also present risk as the water is 
flowing upstream. 

• Rescuing trapped individuals is 
dangerous and often unsuccessful. 

Safety Tips to Follow: 

• Scout the river and know the loca- 
tion of hazards. Talk with boaters 
who are familiar with the river to 
gain additional knowledge. 

• Boat with experienced, responsi- 
ble boaters and learn from them. 

• Watch for a smooth horizon line 
where the water meets the sky. 
This indicates the potential pres- 
ence of a dam. 

• Look out for concrete retaining 
walls, which are part of the dam 
structure and easier to spot. 

• Portage around all dams and 
when doing so, re-enter the river at 
a point well downstream of the 

It is nearly impossible to escape the 
strength of the hydraulic when 
trapped. The best thing to do if you are 
in this situation is tuck your chin down, 
draw your knees up to your chest, with 
arms wrapped around them. Hopeful- 
ly, conditions will be such that the cur- 
rent will push you along the bed of the 
river until swept beyond the boil Une 
and released by the hydraulic. 

If attempting to rescue a trapped 
person, always wear a life jacket. 
Throw a line from shore to the person 
in danger. Untrained rescuers should 
never approach a hydraulic in a boat. 
Call for help if possible. J 

Tom Guess, U. S. Coast Guard (Ret.), serves as a 
stateioide coordinator for the Boating Safety 
Education Program at the DGIF. 


Visuals and stats used with permission from 
Ohio DNR. 


In the April 2010 column about boating safety, 
we omitted reporting that the BAC level was 
tightened to .08 in 1994 and zero tolerance for 
BUI was Instituted in 1996. Also, the July 1, 
2010 law for Personal Watercraft (PWC) man- 
dates that all operators 35 and younger be 
required to complete a boating safety course. 




by Ken and Maria Perrotte 

Catfish Court-Bouillon 

rhis dish is pronounced coo-be-yon and is a favorite 
in Louisiana where it is often prepared with redfish 
(small to medium-sized red drum). The first time Ken 
had a redfish court-bouillon was with fishing guide 
Theophile Bourgeois of Louisiana; later, J.P. Parsons of 
Alabama whipped up a delicious catfish version for 
some outdoor writers. With catfish being such a staple 
in Virginia and good eating size fish (less than 5 pounds) 
in abundance much of the year, an adaptation of both 
recipes seemed in order. 

Most court-bouillon recipes start with a roux (for 
those who don't remember, this is an equal blend of fat 
and flour cooked to a consistency that can be stirred), 
but this one is thickened instead by the flour from the 
sauteed fish. The dish is actually more of a stew than the 
original version. A family friend who has enjoyed fried 
catfish his entire life tasted this dish and pronounced it 
"the best catfish Fve ever eaten." 


V-i cup butter 

Vi cup chopped celery 

1 cup chopped onion 

Vi cup finely chopped scallions (or green onions) 

V4 cup chopped bell pepper 

1 tablespoon chopped parsley 

1 tablespoon minced garlic 

2 bay leaves 

V2 teaspoon powdered thyme 

Vi teaspoon marjoram I 

Vi teaspoon allspice 

V2 teaspoon basil 

1 V2 cups canned chopped tomatoes with their juice 

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning (We've used Tony 
Chachere' and Konrico) 

Vi tablespoon paprika 

2 cups chicken bouillon (or fish stock if you have it) 
2 to 2 V2 pounds catfish fillets cut in chunks of 

about 2 or 3 inches 

Flour seasoned with salt and pepper 
2 tablespoons oil 
Vi a.ip dry red wine 
1 tablespoon lemon juice 

Salt and cayenne pepper to taste 

In a large pot, heat butter over medium heat and saute 
celery, bell pepper, onion, scallions, and garlic. Stir in 
seasonings and tomatoes, and simmer 5 min. Stir in 
stock and briiig to a boil. Reduce heat and cook slowly 
for 30 min. 

While cooking sauce, coat catfish with seasoned 
flour and sear on both sides in hot oil in a saute pan over 
medium-high heat. Then lower heat and continue cook- 
ing for a minute or two, at most, depending on the thick- 
ness of the fish. 

When sauce has cooked approximately 30 min., stir 
in lemon juice and wine. Add fish and cook slowly 
10-12 minutes more until fish is done. Season to taste 
and serve over white or brown rice. 

Serves 4 or 5. You can make more by scaling the 
recipe up. Re-freeze cooked catfish court-bouillon for a 
few weeks if desired. Or, save a bag of catfish fillets and 
make this dish in the winter months for a nice fish alter- 
native to some of the beef stews that are popular when 
the thermometer dips down. 

Start things off with a nice salad of mixed greens and 
then serve the main course with some crusty French or 
garlic bread. Keep the Tabasco or other hot sauce close 
by for those who want to jazz things up a little. It makes 
for a satisfying meal. 

This is one of those meals that pairs well with most 
lagers, pilsners, or ales and most white wines, except for 
those with floral nuances. A nice, well-chilled Chablis or 
Pinot Gris would offset the spiciness of the dish, and 
Light red wines can also work. □ 

JUNE 2010 


by Lynda Richardson 

Just Say "No" to Automatic - Part 3 

/n the April column, I wrote about 
taking your camera off of auto- 
matic mode to give you more artistic 
freedom. After deciding which ISO to 
use, your next decision is based on 
what's more important: aperture 
(covered in May), or shutter speed. 
As a reminder, aperture controls 
depth-of-field, or how much is in 
focus in front of and behind the sub- 
ject. Now I'm going to talk about the 
importance of shutter speed. 

Having already selected your 
ISO, if you are out shooting and de- 
cide that you want to stop a bird in 
mid-flight or blur the water coming 
over a waterfall, it is shutter speed 
you will want to select next. Locate 
the shutter speeds on your camera. 
Speeds are measured by the amount 
of time that the shutter is open. As 
you might guess, the slower the shut- 
ter speed, the less you are able to stop 
action. The higher the shutter speed, 
the better control you have at stop- 
ping action. 

If you are nervous about using 
manual settings at this point, just lo- 
cate your camera's shutter priority 
mode. Here you can select the shutter 
speed you want, and the camera will 
select the aperture needed to make a 
good exposure. 

One problem to be mindful of 
when shooting with slow shutter 
speeds is camera shake. This is partic- 
ularly problematic when hand-hold- 
ing your camera. A general "rule of 
thumb" is to never shoot a shutter 
speed that is slower than the length 
of the lens you are using. For exam- 
ple, when shooting with a 200mm 
lens don't attempt to hand-hold it at 
less than 1/ 200th of a second. (Re- 
member, this is just a general rule!) 

Some cameras have Image Stabi- 
lization (IS) or Vibration Reduction 
(VR) in the lens or camera itself. 
When turned on, this function can 
help you to hand-hold at up to two 
"stops" slower. I usually don't trust 
this completely, so be sure to check 

for sharpness. And... when all else 
fails, use a tripod! 

The next time you're out shoot- 
ing, just say "NO!" to the automatic 
settings on your camera. Select your 
ISO, decide whether you're going to 
use aperture priority or shutter prior- 
ity, and then shoot away. I suspect 
you will be much happier with the re- 
sults. Eventually, you'll be able to 
move into full manual mode: a great 
goal to strive for. 


You are invited to submit one to five of your 
best photographs to "Image of the Month," 
Virginia Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, 
4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 
23230-1104. Send original slides, super high- 
quality prints, or high-res jpeg, tiff, or raw 
files on a disk and include a self-addressed, 
stamped envelope or other shipping method 
for return. Also, please include any pertinent 
information regarding how and where you 
captured the image and what camera and 
settings you used, along with your phone 
number. We look forward to seeing and 
sharing your work with our readers. 


Congratulations to Gilpin Brown of Richmond for his beautiful photographs of a great blue heron fishing next to a waterfall, illustrating 
the use offast and slow shutter speeds. Way to go, Gilpin! 

Using a shutter speed of l/500th stopped the action of the 
waterfall for Gilpin. Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi, ISO 200, 

A slow shutter speed ofl/lOth smoothed out the water, making 
the heron stand out from the background. Canon EOS Digital 
Rebel XTi, ISO 200, 1/ 10th, f 32.0. 




IBoMiraclI Copies ®ff 
Yif^ginaa Wildlife MagazJine 

AiHiraijal Editi©ins 
fr®m 1©9® tlarough 2©®9 

Are Available in Limited Supply 

$26.75 per edition (includes S/H) 

Pay by Check Only to : 

Treasurer of Virginia 

Mail to : 

Virginia Wildlife Magazine 

P.O.Box III 04 
Richmond, VA 23230- 1104 

Include your full name, daytime phone, 

and USPS shipping address. 

Reference Item No. VW-230 and the 

year(s) you are purchasing. 

Please allow 3 weeks for 
receipt of order. 

Radio and television stations across 
Virginia are now broadcasting a 30- 
second public service announcement 
providing information on boating 
safety education requirements. Listen 
for the spot during the month of June. 

Here's a link to the new television 
commercial on our website: 

Virginia PepartweHt of (awe and Inland Fisheries 

Outdoor Report 

Managing and Conierving 
Our Wildlife and Natural Keiourcci 

For a free email subscription, 

visit our website at 

Click on the Outdoor Report link and 

simply fill in the required information. 

Northern Pinesnake Watch 

You can help conserve and protect the Northern pinesnake! The Virginia 
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries would like your assistance in re- 
porting current, past, live or dead pinesnake observations. If you have 
seen a pinesnake or know of a past observation in the state, please fill out 
the form below and send it to the address provided. Your personal infor- 
mation will remain confidential. Thank you for helping us protect a natu- 
ral rarity! Please include the following information in your observation: 

Date observed: 

Observation location (be as specific as possible): 

County or City/Town: 

Snake activity: moving resting dead other (explain) 

Additional comments: 

The below information will be used for confirmation purposes only. 




Zip Code: 

Daytime phone number: 

JUNE 2010 

Additional information, such as photographs and/or location maps, is 
welcome and should be included when possible. Send the completed 
form to Mike Pinder, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 
2206 South Main Street, Suite C, Blacksburg, VA 24060. 

You can also respond via our new Web link, at: 

Magazine subscription-related calls only I -800-7 1 0-9369 

Twelve issues for $12.95! 

All other caUs to (804) 367-1000; (804) 367-1278 TTY 

Visit our website at 

This workshop is designed primarily for 
females 9 years of age and above to 
learn the outdoor skills usually associat- 
ed with hunting and fishing, but useful 
in a variety of outdoor pursuits. 

All courses focus on outdoor skills 
using hands-on instruction. Outdoor 
skills courses include outdoor cooking, 
fly-fishing, wild edibles, introduction to 
firearms, skeet shooting, archery, 
wilderness survival, map and compass, 
animal tracking, and more. 

This workshop is 
for you If: 

You would like to get your family in- 
volved in outdoor activities and need 
a place to start. 

You have never tried outdoor activi- 
ties but have hoped for an opportuni- 
ty to learn. 

You are a beginner v>/ho hopes to im- 
prove your skills. 

You are looking for the camaraderie 
of like-minded individuals. 

This year's event will be held at Holiday 
Lake 4-H Educational Center near Ap- 
pomattox. Registration is $90 per per- 
son, which includes meals, lodging, 
course instruction, use of equipment, 
and evening events. Registration dead- 
line is July 23, 201 Oat 5 p.m. 

For more information, visit our website with 
links to registration forms for down- 
loading or call the Outdoor Education 
Office at (804) 367-0656 or (804) 367-